Best 5 Sacred Monasteries to Visit in Ladakh for a Soul-Stirring Experience

Written By: Abhilasha Prasad

Ladakh is often described as 'Little Tibet' as Buddhist inhabitants populate it. Nestled at a higher altitude, Ladakh is a land like no other. A riot of complex murals and red-robed monks, with soaring prayer flags, white wall stupas, and stunning Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, can be seen. A few well-known monasteries listed below are a must-visit for everyone looking to rediscover their spirituality and learn about their life's purposely

"Mankind does not need monasteries to live, but monasteries need mankind to live!" —Mehmet Murat ildan

1. Thiksey Monastery: Spiritual Journey

One of the most stunning and largest Buddhist temples in Ladakh. The structures were constructed hierarchically, serving a distinction of significance. The Maitreya Temple, which was constructed in honor of the fourth Dalai Lama, is the monastery's centerpiece. With artifacts, it has twelve stories divided into several areas. 

Things to do nearby: Witness the beautiful views of Indus Valley, Leh. Attend the annual festival of Gustar. 

Traveler tips: Food items are not permitted inside the monastery. Maintain silent mode on your phones.

Timings: 7:00 am to 7:00 pm

Entrance fee: INR 20 (Indians and Foreigners) 

Location: Leh Manali Highway Thiksey Jammu and Kashmir

Best season: October to November 

Places to visit nearby: Stakna Gompa (8.4 km), Leh Palace (20.6 km) 

2. Hemis Monastery: Feel Enlightened

Hemis Gompa is the largest, wealthiest, and most well-known among all the best monasteries in Ladakh. Here, training for the young lamas is provided. The royal family of the area supports this gompa. The monastery is decorated with several Buddha statues, gold-plated stupas, and murals.

Things to do nearby: Participate in the Hemis Festival festivities. Study the Buddhist displays.

Traveler Tips: The museum shop sells curios, paintings and postcards, wooden statues, and other artifacts to visitors. Tourists can also stop by the Naropa Photang on their way to Hemis Gompa.

Timings: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm

Entrance fee: Free

Location: Leh, Ladakh

Best season: May to October

Places to visit nearby: Hemis Museum (0.0 km) 

3. Diskit Monastery: Ancient and Unusual

The largest and oldest still-existing monastery in Nubra Valley, Leh. The artwork of ferocious Buddhist temples and a striking fresco replicating Tibet's Tashilhunpo Monastery fascinate Buddhists and admirers of the arts from all over the region. 

Things to do nearby: Take from the blessings of the famous statue of Cho Rinpoche. Appreciate the 106-foot-long statue of the Jampa Buddha that is perched atop a hill beneath the monastery.

Traveler Tips: It's essential to remember that photography is prohibited within Diskit Monastery's prayer hall and museum.

Timings: 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Entrance fee: INR 30 per person

Location: Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Best season: May to September

Places to visit nearby: Nubra Valley (1.1 km), Statue of Maitreya Buddha (0.0 km) 

4. Shey Monastery: Close to Rancho School 

Remember the Rancho School, which rose to fame with the release of the film 3 Idiots? Well, the Shey monastery is close. The monastery currently has the tallest gold Buddha statue, three stories tall. Also, a wax bowl in front of the statue is lit for a year before being changed out for a fresh one.

Things to do nearby: You should stop at some of the dhabas along the way, some of which provide noodles or thukpa in addition to their excellent and delectable local authentic Tibetan cuisine.

Traveler Tips: Since there is only one Lama at the monastery in Ladakh, and they often keep the inner sanctum closed, special permission is needed to visit the Shey Monastery.

Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM 

Entrance fee: Free

Location: Leh Town, Ladakh

Best season: July to September

Places to visit nearby: Thiksey Monastery (5.9 km), Leh Palace (14.7 km) 

5. Stakna Monastery: Magnificent Views

Little and tranquil, Stakna, also known as Tiger's Nose, is a Buddhist temple in Ladakh that provides breathtaking views of the Indus valley. Among all the monasteries in Ladakh, Stakna Gompa has multiple sister monasteries, including those in Zanskar-Bardan, Stakrimo, and Sani, and it has many artworks, idols, and Buddhist texts.

Things to do nearby: On the Leh-Manali highway, you can stop and eat at some tiny eateries.

Traveler Tips: The signs of acute mountain sickness should be known by you (AMS). You must exercise caution since the air's lack of oxygen and the elevation pose a risk.

Timings: INR 30 per person

Entrance fee: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Location: Stakna Ladakh

Best season:  May to September

Places to visit nearby: Thiksey Monastery (8.4 km), Rancho School (11 km) 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the oldest monastery in Ladakh? 

Lamayuru Monastery is the oldest monastery in Ladakh. 

Which is the largest monastery in Ladakh? 

Thiksey Monastery is said to have the largest monastery in Ladakh. 

Which is the best time to visit Ladakh? 

The best time to visit Ladakh is in the month of April to July. 

What are the top famous monasteries in Ladakh? 

Some of the famous monasteries are Thiksey Monastery, Lamayuru, and Alchi Monastery. 

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